Bronze Age Boat
The world's oldest known seagoing boat
The Dover Museum is privileged to host its famous Bronze Age Boat in the acclaimed Bronze Age Boat Gallery.
This wooden prehistoric boat, discovered in September 1992, is thought to be some 3,000 years old. The boat's excavation was an internationally important archaeological discovery. After seven years of research and conservation, the Dover Boat is back in Dover and proudly on display at the Dover Museum.
The discovery, excavation and preservation of the Dover Bronze Age Boat has been internationally praised. In December 2000, the Bronze Age Boat was awarded the British Archaeological Awards ICI Award 2000 in recognition of its contribution to archaeological knowledge.
Discovery and Excavation
On 28 September 1992, Kent construction workers in the midst of building the A20 road link between Folkestone and Dover made an intriguing discovery.
The workers, who were working alongside archaeologists from the Canterbury Archaeological Trust, uncovered the remains of a large and well-preserved prehistoric boat. This was a transformative discovery: the boat is roughly 3,500 years old and archaeologists estimate it would have been in use in England in roughly 1,500 BC, during the Bronze Age.
The archaelogists were aware that past attempts at excavating similar boats in one piece had been unsuccessful. Consequently, a decision was taken to cut the boat into sections and reassemble it afterwards. It was also neccessary to leave an unknown part of the boat underground as its burial sight stretched out towards buildings and excavating too close to these buildings would have been too dangerous.
After nearly a month of excavation 9.5 metres of the boat was successfully recovered and has since been marvellously preserved in the Dover Museum.
Archaelogists remain unsure of how large the boat originally was. Much speculation has been made in regards to its original size and shape: it is possible the boat could be many metres longer than what is on display in the Gallery or it could be almost complete. Either way, the boat holds a unique position as the world's oldest known sea-faring boat.
The Dover Bronze Age Boat Trust
The Dover Bronze Age Boat Trust is a charitable organisation which was set up to manage the conservation and exhibition of the boat. It is due to the work of this organisation that the Bronze Age Boat has been able to stay in Dover and can continue to be displayed in Dover Museum.
The daily running costs of the gallery are being met by Dover District Council, which owns and operates the Museum Service. In six years (1993-1999) the Dover Bronze Age Boat Trust raised £1.6million to fund the preservation and display of the boat.
The principal donors were :
- The Heritage Lottery Fund
- English Heritage
- The European Regional Development Fund (KONVER Programme)
- The Wolfson Foundation